Good morning and welcome to Anatomy of the Male Mind. I’ve been thinking about the term “bad boy.” How many of us have referred to a man as a “bad boy”? I’m going to guess it’s a pretty high number. It has become common (I think) to say “Oh, he’s a bad boy” or “I dated a bad boy.” As my always amusing dad used to say, “Am I right or am I wrong?”
I know I dated a bad boy once. The thing I’ve never really explored is why a boy grows into a bad boy. I was suddenly curious about that and asked Wayne Levine to help us find someone who might have an answer.
Mike Schwartzmann joins us today to talk about life as a bad boy. Obviously, everyone’s story will be different and this is one man sharing painful experiences with us. Not all bad boys will have the same story, but I think Mike’s story gives us all something to think about the next time we meet a “bad boy.”
Why did you become a “bad boy”?
When I was five a friend of my father’s molested me. I went to my parents and they shoved it under the rug. The five year old mind doesn’t make mom & dad wrong so something must be terribly wrong with me. My brother is smart and my sister is cute & charming. I had nowhere to go to get any love and attention. As time went by, I got into trouble and got attention. Not what I would suggest as a method but it worked.
Over the next 4 years or so I was beaten by my mom several times a week. She never hit anyone else. Back to the child mind, I was gathering info feeding serious shame. What would certainly be classified as abuse today was happening regularly, and I was more and more convinced I was damaged at some deep level. Alone with all this, I cursed myself as a dirty, nasty little boy who never deserved to have anything good happen to him. I lived out that self induced curse well into adulthood.
What made you stop this cycle and go into recovery?
There are three ways to go so I’ll take on the medium length version. From age 13 to 28, I had progressed from a runaway living on the streets of Los Angeles (stealing to survive) to a violent criminal heroin addict who spent better than half the time behind bars.
Just short of a year before I got clean I was arrested for 2 robberies, 3 grand thefts and assault on a police officer. Due to what I have come to consider a divine intervention I was placed on probation with a short jail sentence.
During the time in jail I was introduced to a new thought process that included the possibility of something different. Armed with some desire for a change, I got out of jail and returned to what I knew. I now was being who I had been, but pretty much against my will. I did not want to live this way and did not have any tools to stop. I had never been afraid of consequence before.
The drive that had been necessary to keep up with what I had done prior was not there. I could no longer keep up the front of a criminal drug addict. I kept remembering the desire I had been introduced to during the long nights in my cell. The desire for something new and different. I eventually violated probation and stood before the judge.
My version of that day was God took over the courtroom and I was given the opportunity to seek help or return to prison for 10 years. I made the right choice! That was in April 1976. I have never looked back.
When you talk about the desire to change, what kind of life were you envisioning for yourself that fueled you to make the change?
I dont recall having any vision of what life might look like for me if a change took place. I only knew what I didnt want. I didn’t want any of what I had been having. It was really that simple and short sided. I don’t think I had the ability to imagine much in the way of a life. I never had much of one.
Thank you to Mike for sharing. Mike will be back with us on December 2 to talk about overcoming addiction.
To the RU crew, do you know any bad boys? What is their story?
Join us on Friday when Eliza Knight will show us how to make our stories come alive.